So far, since last October, Port Otago has been fortunate
in enjoying a very successful cruise-ship season. Passengers
and crew members from all over the world have called during
cruises that have not been marred by serious incidents.
However, over the past 13 months, cruise ships have taken a
public relations pounding, with unflattering and negative
The period itself was a difficult one for the industry with
higher fuel prices, and the ongoing global recession. Then
there was the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to cruise-ship
facilities in the Caribbean and along the United States east
Hardest hit has been the Carnival group, firstly after Costa
Cruises' Costa Concordia hit a rock off the eastern
shore of Isola del Giglio and capsized, a disaster that
claimed more than 30 lives.
Then last week there was the distressing news of the
engine-room fire that crippled the Carnival Corporation's
Carnival Triumph in the Gulf of Mexico. Passengers and
crew alike were forced to live in reeking, unsanitary
conditions as the ship drifted helplessly before it was
eventually taken in tow to Mobile, Alabama.
Carnival Triumph. Photos by Reuters.
So what started off in good faith when the vessel left
Galveston on February 7, on a short four-day cruise to Cozumel,
Mexico, turned into a nightmare that all those on board will
The ship had been plagued by other mechanical problems
On the previous voyage, an electrical problem involved the
ship's alternator. This was repaired two days before the ship
sailed from Galveston and was not related to the fire that
broke out in the engine room. On Wednesday, Carnival
Spirit, the only vessel from the Carnival Cruise Line to
call here, returns on its second visit. The 85,619gt,
292.50m-long vessel was built in Finland in 2001.
In comparison, Carnival Triumph is a shorter,
272.82m-long vessel, but of 101,509gt. The ship was a
modified version of the 101.503gt Carnival Destiny,
shortly to be renamed Carnival Sunshine, the first two
passenger-carrying vessels in the world to exceed 100,000gt.
Both were built at the Fincantieri shipyard at Monfalcone
where Carnival Destiny was completed in October, 1996,
and Triumph during July, 1999. And in July, 2006,
their Sestri Ponente yard at Genoa delivered the ill-fated
114,317gt Costa Concordia.
Carnival Triumph is expected to be out of service for
two months. But it could take twice as long to repair the
disabled container ship Emma Maersk.
On February 2, it was reported that the vessel had
encountered mechanical problems when entering the northern
entrance of the Suez Canal and began taking in water. Canal
authorities then had it removed from the shipping lane and
berthed it at the Suez Canal container terminal.
The trouble started when the ship experienced water ingress
in the engine room from the propeller oil seal after entering
the canal. Initial inspections by divers revealed that the
water ingress was caused due to damage to one of the stern
Several propeller blades had broken off and caused severe
damage to the propeller mounting. This in turn resulted in a
crack in the forward stern thruster tunnel and a gear that
had been torn loose apparently caused damage to the hull.
Damage was also caused to the 120m-long propeller shaft and
the engine room itself was flooded to a depth of 18m. Naval
architects later confirmed that a fully-laden Emma
Maersk-class ship can stay afloat with full flooding of
the engine room. Since the incident, and as a precautionary
measure, Maersk has instructed the other vessels in this
class to not use their stern thrusters.
Currently the first priority is to keep the equipment
submerged in salt water as any contact with oxygen will cause
corrosion. The ship will now be towed to Europe for repairs.
The 170,794gt, 397.60m vessel, powered by a 14-cylinder
Sulzer diesel, was completed by the A.P. Moller-Maersk
group's Odense yard in August, 2006. With its seven sister
ships they were the first mega-container ships to appear, but
their true 15,500 TEU capacity was not revealed for some
On its ill-fated voyage the ship was carrying the equivalent
of 13,537TEU, of which 6425 were full.